Picture, if you will, an outdoor café on a quiet street in the early morning. Three friends sit around a small table enjoying coffee, croissants, and conversation. Mozart symphonies play and sparrows hop around, collecting fallen crumbs. It is in such an atmosphere where we, The Ancient One, Michael, and I, find ourselves. Of course, where we are, there are no cafes and the music of angels replaces Mozart’s.
Like movements in a sonata, our conversation moves to serious tones.
“You know she’s going to comply with her young mother’s words, believing that only submission will achieve longed-for connection.” Michael’s voice falls flat.
The Ancient One nods, “Yes, I know.” His voice drifts through the air like the deep notes of a cello. The loss weighs heavy.
Michael’s voice rises in frustration. “An infant in need of attachment, who speaks the language of touch. A young mother, unaware of consequences, desiring to raise her daughter well-disciplined, acts from fears that holding the infant will spoil her. So the infant is left wanting.” His words resonate with sadness. “And the infant will trade her voice for the approval of her mother. “
The Ancient One stands and begins pacing. “A master manipulator.” His voice crescendos, “The deceiver weaves a web of confusion, using people’s needs and desires against them.” He stops and looks at Michael. “And the words,” he pauses. “If humanity only understood the power unleashed in what seem like benign words.” He begins pacing again. “The deceiver will use the mother’s words, distort the message to the infant, and the tender-hearted child will believe that silence and compliance are the only way to love and belonging.” He sits with a thump.
I awoke earlier than normal, faint light from the setting moon illuminated the windows of my bedroom. Beside me I heard the deep, slow breathing of my slumbering husband. My head hurt, as if a band was wrapped around it and strong hands behind me pulled the band tighter and tighter at the base of my scull. Tired as I was, the pain did not allow me to return to sleep. I got up, made a quick pit stop to the bathroom, and walked down the hall to the kitchen. Out of habit I made coffee and drank a large glass of water. It was cold outside, so instead of sitting on the deck swing I opted to meet with Jesus on the couch. Sitting down and propping my elbow on the arm of the sofa I held my head in my hand. My stomach expressed displeasure with a wave of nausea.
Friday in Jerusalem. Much of our day packed, visiting the places where Jesus spent His final hours. We walked through Caiaphas’ palace. Saw the place, the stone prison under his home, where they kept Jesus as He awaited condemnation. We wandered in the back garden and paused at the bottom of the stone steps where He stood at the top, a rooster crowed, and He looked at Peter with compassion (Luke 22:61). We sang Via Dolorosa, walking along the cobbled road to a place believed to be Golgotha, The Place of the Skull. We spent a somber day, contemplating Jesus and His sacrifice.
Everything is gray. The sky is gray, the roads are gray, even my car is gray. I don’t feel gray though, I feel good. I feel like the Bradford pear trees in full white bloom along the gray road. I feel like the morning chickadees chirping their cheery wake-up song no matter what the sky looks like.
Because I don’t let myself think about it. I don’t allow what’s happening in the world around me access. I don’t watch the news or listen to the radio, and I scroll past the doom-and-gloom Facebook posts. Who can believe those anyway?
And honestly, the changes in my life have improved it. The best part is my husband is home more. And my children are safe, and my job is secure. Life is a little slower… Life is good, despite COVID-19.
I sat across from the pastor at a local restaurant. The table between us was laid with a red cloth and salt and pepper shakers sat one on each side of the tin napkin holder in the middle of the table. We could hear the bustle from the kitchen and he asked the usual questions one would ask a thirteen year old, school and friends. And then home. I stared at my barely-eaten french fries, their smell churning my stomach. Tears formed and a lump in my throat prevented me from speaking.
“I hate him,” the quiet words penetrated the lump. I hesitated, “And the Bible says hating someone is murder,” I said quickly, in almost a whisper. I could not look at him. My cheeks were now saturated and I could taste the salt of my tears.
His eyes widened slightly, he shifted in his seat, cleared his throat about to speak, then closed his mouth. He took a deep breath and stammered something about Jesus and love and everything was going to be okay. His words briefly whriled around my head and dropped to the floor.